Washington. D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) led a letter with 41 House colleagues urging the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and U.S. Soccer Federation to conduct a thorough investigation into harassment and abuse claims made by NWSL players. Egregious reports of consistent abuse directed at women soccer players, including by former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, have revealed a clear pattern of systemic harassment that raises serious safety concerns for players in the league.
“The abuse and harassment that NWSL players have been subjected to across the league is appalling,” said Congresswoman Ross. “The fact that players courageously brought their concerns to the attention of NWSL leadership and received minimal support represents a shocking institutional failure. This issue is personal for me. As the aunt of a high school soccer player, who hopes to play in college, I find the systemic refusal to protect women from abuse deeply concerning. From unequal pay to harassment and abuse, we need to finally say ‘enough is enough’ – women athletes shouldn’t be forced to endure mistreatment to compete in the sports they love. The NWSL, U.S. Soccer Federation, and the NWSL Players Association (NWSLPA) must work together to conduct a robust investigation into this widespread abuse of power.”
The letter highlights the demands of the NWSLPA, including that every coach, general manager, owner, and representative of the NWSL board of governors submit to the investigation into abusive conduct and that the scope of the investigation be expanded to include all 12 NWSL clubs represented on the Board of Governors, including the investigation of the potential NWSL neglect with regard to concerns of abuse raised by players or other staff.
After former players bravely recounted the abuse and harassment they endured during Paul Riley’s tenure, he was fired from his position as the head coach of the North Carolina Courage, a NWSL soccer team based in Congresswoman Ross’ district. In addition to Paul Riley, three other NWSL coaches have been fired in the past three months for inappropriate comments, creating a toxic environment, and verbal and emotional abuse.
Full text of the letter is available here.